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With 300 days of sunshine a year and miles of beautiful Mediterranean coastline, the Spanish region of Murcia is an extremely popular retreat for British retirees. Yet for the 200 or so elderly retirees who have settled in the neighborhood, their dreams have turned into nightmare. Two decades after increasing the sticks in Spain, urban planning problems have left dozens of homeowners without access to basic services such as clean water and electricity.

The problem is that many properties were built without a building permit and are therefore considered “illegal” under Spanish law.

Residents of the hamlet of Gea y Truyols said they were now facing “serious consequences” because of the planning issues.

After years of legal wrangling and spending thousands of dollars for lawyers, many expats in the region are now at their wit’s end.

Retiree Linda House, 72, blames Murcia’s town hall for the failures and wrote a heartfelt appeal to local authorities earlier this year.

The former PA company claimed that it and its neighbors had been completely ignored by authorities over the years.

In her letter, she writes: “All of our efforts have been in vain, and we still live in conditions that, I’m sorry to say, one would expect in a third world country.

“We find the situation increasingly overwhelming as we are all now considerably older than when we took up residence here.”

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British expatriates blow up “third world” Spain as access to drinking water and electricity is “cut off” (Image: LINDA HOUSE)

Garbage is not cleaned up: even if expatriates pay taxes

Garbage is not cleaned up: even if expatriates pay taxes (Image: LINDA HOUSE)

Originally from Essex, Linda moved into her dream home in Murcia in July 2003 with her late husband Vic, a former police officer.

Linda said they bought rural farm land for which their builder had applied for a building permit.

Although the application is still pending, the expatriate said his lawyer told him it was “safe” to build on the land and that building permit for the land would be granted.

For safety reasons, she and Vic agreed to sign a contract with their builder, so that he would be responsible for all fines incurred, as well as to cover the cost of setting up infrastructure such as roads, lampposts and sewers.

However, 12 months into the couple’s new life in the sun, they remained “stunned” after being told by their lawyer that the builder had not signed the contract.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “No he never signed the contract.

“She never pursued him. She never told us about it.

Expat: Linda House (C) holds the town hall petition

Expat: Linda House (C) holds the town hall petition (Image: LINDA HOUSE)

In the years that followed, Linda said that she and her neighbors, many of whom are in similar situations, fought tooth and nail with Murcia’s town hall to have their properties legalized, but to no avail.

Linda and her neighbors pay taxes on their properties and have even been fined for “retrospective building permits”.

However, Linda said residents “get nothing for” the taxes they pay.

She added, “We don’t have streets, so they can’t clean the streets. We don’t have a light so they can’t turn on the lights. Nothing.”

Another British retiree in the area, Keith Willis, 71, also has no access to basic public services because his home is not legally recognized.

The retired Windsor Heathrow Airport worker, who lives with his partner Pat, is forced to use agricultural groundwater, which is not suitable for human consumption.

For the past five years, the couple have used solar power and before that, they had no electricity.

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Murcia: the breathtaking landscapes of the Spanish region

Murcia: the breathtaking landscapes of the Spanish region (Image: GETTY)

Like Linda, he told Express.co.uk that local authorities should never have allowed properties to be built without a building permit and that the town hall refused to meet with their lawyers.

He said: “Murcia city council is totally ignoring them and won’t come back and say, ‘yes, we’ll have a meeting with them’ or something like that.

“So it’s like a brick wall. We’re on a risk and Murcia doesn’t really care about people here.

Spanish lawyer Gerardo Vázquez told Express.co.uk that city hall “would have known” what was going on with the planning situation.

He said: “There are a lot of people who allowed this to happen or who are to blame.

Spain: the country is home to thousands of Britons

Spain: the country is home to thousands of Britons (Image: GETTY)

“I wouldn’t blame the British because they don’t know the system.

“They come here in good faith. They buy properties and they end up in this nightmare.

Murcia City Hall did not respond to requests for comment.

However, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “We are working closely with the Spanish government and regional governments on issues relating to the rights of British nationals.

“We encourage any UK national in need of consular assistance to contact the nearest embassy / consulate or call the 24/7 hotline for assistance.”